A new safety recommendation report by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has identified the risks of shared use of the country's marine transportation system by recreational and commercial vessels.

The risks have been posed by the increased use of waterways by commercial and recreational vessels over the last several decades.

The diversity of waterway users and their differences in experience, navigational knowledge and boat-handling skills have also escalated the safety risk.

According to the newly released report entitled ‘Shared Waterways: Safety of Recreational and Commercial Vessels in the Marine Transportation System’, the number of canoers, kayakers, and stand-up paddleboarders increased by approximately 22% between 2008 and 2014. 

National Transportation Safety Board chairman Christopher Hart said: “Operators of motor vehicles upon our nation’s roadways are required to demonstrate a standard of understanding of the rules of the road in order to make roadways safer for all vehicles, large and small.

"Operators of recreational vessels must understand and practice the rules of the road upon our nation’s maritime transportation system, in order to make waterways safer for all vessels."

"It is important that operators of recreational vessels must also understand and practice the rules of the road upon our nation’s maritime transportation system, in order to make waterways safer for all vessels.”

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The NTSB report suggested that all recreational vessel operators should possess a minimum level of boating safety education to mitigate risk.

It also noted that the US Coast Guard should mandate recreational boaters using the US navigable waterways to undertake an instructional course that meets the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators standards or equivalent.

Image: Kayakers are operating in close proximity to a barge and towing vessel in the Chicago River, US. Photo: courtesy of Larry Dostal.